Monday, April 16, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Ontario Human Rights Tribunal comes down on Vital Stats!

In what is likely to be cited as a landmark ruling, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruled this week that a requirement to have "transsexual surgery" in order to have a sex changed on a Birth Certificate, is discrimination. a copy of the ruling is posted here.  this document outlines the challenges of an anonymous 36 year old M2F, who went through a life of hell being accepted by family, friends and employers. She also had to de-transition for a long period in order to find employment.  She rightfully claims that her inability to possess identification citing a sex that was consistent with her gender presentation, lead her to extreme hardships.  It was also ruled that her decision to pursue surgical procedures was done in part to specifically comply with the rules to get her ID changed.

Ironically enough, the surgery she had was not full sex reassignment surgery, which is required in most jurisdictions in Canada. Ontario was allowing the changed based on a bilateral orchiectomy. But still, this is excessive and unnecessary for those who identify as transgender but not transsexual.  The ruling goes on to imply that requiring surgery for sex changes on ID helps push a myth that all trans people need surgery.

While this matter does nothing to help ensure that sex reassignment surgery becomes more accessible for those who need it, this is a huge victory for the trans umbrella community to celebrate as a whole.  This is a huge step in government recognizing that sex and gender are independently exclusive - this meaning, that one does not necessarily determine the other.

This will also help keep trans issues fresh in the eyes and minds of policy makers, law makers, medical professionals, trans community members, and society as a whole.

Interestingly enough, i had an orchiectomy in the same year as this person, by the same surgeon (Dr Kimmel), and i received the same notarized letter (one that indicates sex reassignment surgery has been performed and that the patient should now be considered female).

At the time, I knew that full sex reassignment surgery was the statute requirement in Nova Scotia (by birth province) for birth certificate changes. I also knew that full SRS was likely around the corner for me (which it was).

Also, given my status as an out transsexual, I did not necessarily feel that carrying a male ID while surgically post-orchi, warranted a human rights complaint.  Looking back, I now wish that this was something that I did do.  While a ruling in Ontario is huge, it won't necessarily guarantee all other provinces change their rules quickly, or at all, without further action.

I commend this transwoman for stepping forward and filing this complaint and fighting the battle.  I look forward to being part of the discussion that looks at how both transgender and transsexual communities can leverage this ruling into additional gains in rights and equality.


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